Daphne Oz is an Emmy-winning talk show host, a New York Times best-selling author and a wellness advocate, but this spring she’s adding something new to her plate. Oz will join forces with renowned chefs Gordon Ramsay and Aarón Sánchez as the newest judge on Season 8 of “MasterChef Junior.”
The reality TV cooking competition gives talented kids between the ages of eight and 13 the chance to showcase their culinary abilities. “MasterChef Junior” premieres Thursday, March 17 at 8/7c on Fox. Watch the exclusive video interview with Oz above.
“I hadn’t met him before doing the appearance on ‘MasterChef,” Oz explains when asked about working with Ramsay. “You’ve seen him on ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ you’ve seen him on ‘MasterChef,’ you’ve seen him be the titan in the industry that he is. I think it’s very respectful that he’s willing to share from his incredible wealth of knowledge in an impactful way. Sometimes he uses some choice words [like ‘idiot sandwich’]. It’s always with the intention, ‘you’re here because you’re the best.’ What’s really cool about ‘MasterChef Junior’ is that Gordon is also a father of five. You get to see him play with the kids. We know that memories are more permanent when they are attached to emotion and he always keeps emotion high.”
Oz was thrilled when she got the call to participate this season. “I knew going into it that it was a phenomenal cast, a phenomenal team behind the show and it’s just fun to watch,” she explains. “The kids are eight years old to 13 years old. Young children who come in there with such a phenomenal array of skills at their disposal. As a mother of four kids under eight I was like, hmm, my child should be making me breakfast in bed and three course meals. It was eye-opening and inspiring in the best of ways.”
Throughout the competition, Oz wasn’t phased by any stage parents, but found herself needing to shut down her own motherly instincts. “We don’t have a lot of interaction with the parents,” she reveals. “As a parent myself I think about them all the time. This is a stressful environment! They’re going to have hard moments. It’s a really high pressure, high stakes situation. It’s enough to make adults crack. You do have moments where your instinct is to rush into help, but they actually power through in phenomenally strong ways.”
Like the kids featured in “MasterChef Junior,” Oz found a love for cooking at a young age. “It happened very early for me,” she remembers. “I’m the oldest of four but my parents had me pretty young. My dad was in medical school and then residency when I was little. My mom would spend a lot of time at her parents’ house so I kind of consider myself the youngest of seven. I was always in the kitchen. I was always with my mom and my grandma making these family meals. It was that love, that intensity of that bond, that shared family experience. Being in the kitchen is where you catch all the good gossip and all the good fights. That made me feel like cooking would always be something that I would be fascinated by.”
In addition to “MasterChef Junior,” Oz is the co-host of a new talk show ,”The Good Dish.” The daytime chat series is co-hosted by Gail Simmons and Jamika Pessoa and airs weekdays, nationwide, in most of the same markets and time slots as “The Dr. Oz Show” aired. Oz is the eldest daughter of TV personalities Dr. Mehmet Oz and Lisa Oz.
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